Twitter’s ad revenue declined in Q4 2016

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Twitter released its fourth-quarter earnings results on Thursday morning. Here’s a quick rundown of how the social network’s business is doing.

Twitter continues to make money but not a profit

Twitter has not turned a profit since at least the first quarter of 2012. But that’s not the only money problem Twitter now has. Despite total revenue growing by 1 percent year over year to $717.2 million in Q4 2016, Twitter’s advertising revenue actually shrunk year-over-year to $637.8 million. Oh, and the company recorded another net loss, this time of $167.1 million.

Twitter’s ad revenue has stopped growing

Twitter’s year-over-year advertising revenue growth peaked at 129 percent in Q2 2014 and has been on a slowdown ever since. In Q4 2016, it didn’t grow at all; it shrunk a little.

Twitter’s audience size continues to grow but barely

Cup half-full: more people are using Twitter every month than did a year ago.

Cup half-empty: only slightly more people are using Twitter every month than did in the previous quarter, and in the U.S. the number stayed the same.

Twitter continues to get more people engaging with ads but at lower prices

Since Q1 2015, the number of times people engage with ads on Twitter — by clicking on their links, watching their videos, retweeting them and so on — has gone up and up, up 151 percent year over year in Q4 2016. But since Q3 2015, the amount of money Twitter makes per ad engagement has gone down and down, down 60 percent in Q4 2016.

On- and off-Twitter ad revenue failed to grow

For the second straight quarter, the money Twitter made from running its ads on other publishers’ properties failed to grow; in Q4 2016 it held at $85.0 million. That’s a problem for a roughly two-year-old revenue stream. But the bigger problem is that the money Twitter made from running its ads on its own properties failed to grow also; in Q4 it dipped by 1 percent year over year to $553.0 million.

About The Author

Tim Peterson, Third Door Media’s Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat’s ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar’s attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon’s ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube’s programming strategy, Facebook’s ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking’s rise; and documented digital video’s biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed’s branded video production process and Snapchat Discover’s ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands’ early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo’s and Google’s search designs and examine the NFL’s YouTube and Facebook video strategies.


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